Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

defiant boy 485You’re standing at the grocery checkout counter, and your son asks for the M&Ms. You say, “No.” He asks again a little louder and you say, “No.” He starts whining. You repeat, “No.” He starts pulling on your sleeve and screaming at the top of his lungs. Everyone is looking at you.

“Okay, just this once,” you relent, and throw the bag of M&Ms onto the checkout counter. You’re relieved that the embarrassment has stopped, but what have you taught him in the long run? Your child has just learned that if he hears “no” the first few times, all he needs to do to get what he wants is scream and whine. Essentially, you’ve just rewarded him for being disruptive.

It’s important to show kids that you mean what you say. So think carefully: If you’re ready to enforce the limit, say no and stick to it without budging. But if you’re willing to compromise, say “yes” right away–NOT after a temper tantrum. By being consistent with your actions, you’re helping your child learn to respect your limits and to take you seriously so that he can grow into a calm, respectful individual.

To schedule an evaluation or to get advice about your child’s challenges, call or email a CHC Care Coordinator at 650.688.3625 or

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